11 July 2020, Apia Samoa. The second lot of Recognised Seasonal Employees or RSE workers arrived into Faleolo Airport yesterday afternoon, to be met by an all-hands-on-deck operation by the Ministry of Health, Samoa Airport Authority and Ministry of Police to ensure the safe transportation of repatriated citizens to their respective quarantine sites.
The initiative to bring home seasonal workers from New Zealand has been the focus of joint efforts by the Governments of Samoa and New Zealand, with priority given to those whose contracts of employment ended while borders were closed between the two countries.
Samoa has over 1,500 workers currently in New Zealand on the RSE program that has created short term employment opportunities for rural based men and women.
Thousands of Samoan families have benefited from the scheme since it started in April 2007, where Pacific workers are given the opportunity to work in the horticulture and viticulture industries to meet labour shortages in these sectors for New Zealand.
New Zealand High Commissioner Dr Trevor Matheson confirmed to TV1 Samoa’s Tala Fou that 140 RSE workers arrived into Samoa last week, while 223 were able to return on yesterday’s flight.
Dr Matheson says they are looking at all possibilities in terms of flight options for the workers, including cargo flights that come into Samoa every fortnight.
“The question is how can we do more? Is it possible to get in charter flights to bring them in, or the alternative is looking at the cargo flights..;
“The Samoan government has given us permission to put RSE workers on the cargo flight of the 17th of July”, said the New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa.
Today at Faleolo airport, six buses and several vans were lined up to receive and transport the arriving passengers.
Workers from all Ministries involved were seen taking the upmost care to maintain safe and security at Samoa’s borders during the operation.